A challenge in molecular diagnosis and genetic counseling is the interpretation of variants of uncertain significance. Proper pathogenicity classification of new variants is important for the conclusion of molecular diagnosis and the medical management of patient treatments. The purpose of this study was to reclassify two RPE65 missense variants, c.247T>C (p.Phe83Leu) and c.560G>A (p.Gly187Glu), found in Brazilian families. To achieve this aim, we reviewed the sequencing data of a 224-gene retinopathy panel from 556 patients (513 families) with inherited retinal dystrophies. Five patients with p.Phe83Leu and seven with p.Gly187Glu were selected and their families investigated. To comprehend the pathogenicity of these variants, we evaluated them based on the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics and the Association for Molecular Pathology (ACMG/AMP) classification guidelines. Initially, these RPE65 variants met only three pathogenic criteria: (i) absence or low frequency in the population, (ii) several missense pathogenic RPE65 variants, and (iii) 15 out of 16 lines of computational evidence supporting them as damaging, which together allowed the variants to be classified as uncertain significance. Two other pieces of evidence were accepted after further analysis of these Brazilian families: (i) p.Phe83Leu and p.Gly187Glu segregate with childhood retinal dystrophy within families, and (ii) their prevalence in Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA)/early-onset retinal dystrophy (EORD) patients can be considered higher than in other inherited retinal dystrophy patients. Therefore, these variants can now be classified as likely pathogenic according to ACMG/AMP classification guidelines.
Keywords: Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA); RPE65 gene; early-onset retinal dystrophy (EORD); likely pathogenic variant; variant of uncertain significance (VUS).